So close: Benfica Macau miss AFC Cup

Benfica Macau finished their second participation in the AFC Cup qualifiers on the runners-up position of Group A. Unfortunately, it was not enough to go through the next phase, but all considered it was a promising performance for the playoff spot, and a fight to the last minute. 

Benfica Macau started the competition in the best way possible, achieving the historic first win in an AFC competition against less experienced Rovers FC, the champion from Guam. The game finished 4-2 for Benfica, but the score could have been higher if left back Lee Chi Kin had not been sent off at the 78th minute.

Benfica Macau team against Rovers FC

The first goal was scored by Carlos Leonel and just four minutes later the Portuguese striker added the second to his personal account. At minute 33′ it was Nichola Torrao who found the back of the net, smashing the hopes for Rovers FC of gaining at least one point. In the second half Chan Man converted a penalty, but after Benfica were only left with 10 men, Rovers FC managed to score two goals during the last 10 minutes, through Jason Cunliffe and Brandon Macdonald.

Based on this ideal result Benfica went into the final match, knowing that a draw would be enough to win the group, since FC Dordoi previously only won 2-0 against Rovers.
Benfica made two changes for this match. Kam Chi Hou replaced Lee Chi Kin and Rafael Bastardo entered instead of Cuco. Kam Chi Hou is a center back, but for this match he took over the role of to left back, making it one of the weaknesses.

Benfica Macau team against FC Dordoi

Benfica had once again a perfect start, when José Filipe scored in the 3rd minute. That meant Dordoi had to score two goals to go through. However, from that moment on Dordoi took full control and showed how experienced they are. Just a few minutes later Abdoulaye Diaby equalized. For the second half, Benfica Macau coach Henrique Nunes substituted Kam Chi Hou with Cuco, Rafael Bastardo with Duarte Torres and Nicholas Torrão with Lee Keng Pang, but these changes weren’t enough. At the 77th minute Dordoi scored the match winner from a free kick Akhmataliev Mirbek, claiming the top spot of the group.

AFC Cup playoff qualifiers group standings

(Photo source: Benfica Macau facebook)

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